The viewpoint is the ground floor of the former Palazzo Reale, also known as the Ala Napoleonica and now housing the Museo Correr, at the west end of the Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), looking out from the deep shade of the classical arcade leading from the square to the Calle Larga dell’Ascensione. On the right, the view is to the east-north-east, through the length of the arcade under the Procuratie Nuove along the south side of the square. Looking to the left, the square is seen to the north-east in strong afternoon light, possibly with slight indications of the Basilica at the far end.
Loose, swirling marks including strong touches of orange across the foreground appear to indicate figures passing through; assuming they are intended as adults, they are on about half the actual scale of their immediate setting, lending grandeur to the relatively modest archway (an effect the young Turner had sometimes employed even in his cathedral interiors3). Compare D32245 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 26), a larger, vertical variant on red-brown paper from a little to the left, looking out into the square to the campanile and Basilica, which form the focus of the scene through a central arch. Ian Warrell has observed that such views from enclosed, darkened viewpoints ‘ultimately derived from Canaletto, who had used similar devices in some of his drawings and prints’.4 See for example the upright pendant paintings, Two Views of Piazza San Marco, of about 1756 and 1758 (National Gallery, London).
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1029; see also Finberg 1930, p.176, where the 1909 title was not amended.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1029.
See for example Matthew Imms in Ian Warrell ed., Franklin Kelly and others, J.M.W. Turner, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington 2007, p.33.
Warrell 2003, p.126.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as being on ‘Grey-brown paper produced by an unknown maker (possibly ... a batch made at Fabriano [Italy])’;1 for numerous red-brown Fabriano sheets used for similar subjects, see for example under Tate D32224 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 5).
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 11) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also sections 9 and 10, Powell 1995, p.161, and Bower 1999, p.112.